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Moneyball review: Baseball success secrets revealed
Moneyball is the idea of assembling a team of Baseball players based on statistics and analytical..

MONEYBALL - THAT is what the idea of assembling a team of Baseball players based on statistics and analytical knowledge of the sport (known as "sabermetrics") was termed by sports-journalists. The method was unorthodox and controversial as it challenged the analyses of the Baseball insiders (viz. the players, the scouts who are like the ‘selector-consultants,’ the managers) by talking of solid numerical terms, like - "base point avg.", "runs batted in", "batting avg.", "stolen bases", etc. something similar to Cricket's "avg. score", "run rate", etc.

The idea, though vague enough to be discarded, had some very strong points in the matter of predicting a player's on-field performance and of the team as a whole. "Runs win the game...." that's what was important for an underperforming team and that's what was at the mind of the Head GM of Oakland Athletics Baseball Team, Billy Beane. So, he began assembling a team, that too in under-budget, to get the Oakland A's the wins it was missing. But, that was not all the reason Billy had in his mind for this unconventional approach.

In a scene, Billy is arguing with the then Head Scout of the team on his approach. He says, ".....You don't have a crystal ball. You can't look at a kid and predict his future any more than I can. I've sat at those kitchen tables with you and listened to you tell parents -'When I know, I know. And when it comes to your son, I know.' and you don't." The thought emerged from Billy's early day experiences as a player, when he was recruited by scouts, who talked about conventional approaches of efficiently hitting and throwing the ball and told his parents that he would be a good player, in a similar fashion as the dialogue goes above. So, Billy declined a university scholarship and with a high-school degree went on to play professional Baseball. But, alas, he performed badly in various matches for several seasons with different teams and thus, dropped away soon to become a scout himself.

Hence, Billy started assembling players based on pure analytical wisdom, along with his Asst.GM Peter Brand, an economist, who was good with the knowledge of statistics of Baseball. He especially took undervalued players to fit the criteria of place on the field and needs of the team, more often on a player’s capacity to “steal bases”, which are like taking runs in Cricket. Though, unfruitful initially, the team started to pick up by and by, with continuous cautious trading of players in the time. Billy personally motivated the players to concentrate on specific areas and also maneuvered his ways with the team's on-field manager, who was highly disgruntled with all the player selection. All this started to work out, little by little. Later, the Oakland A's became the first team to hold the American League Record of 20-consecutive wins - all done by an underdog team, full of underestimated players. Though Billy wasn't able to win the last game of the championship of the year 2002, which was his sole modus operandi as that was the only thing that meant eventually according to him, still his efforts were appreciated in general in the Baseball world.

In the aftermath, it was shown that Billy was offered a GM post in another major Baseball team, Boston Red Sox, with the highest pay till this time, of $12.5 million, which he cordially declined to stay as the GM of his former team. He is still the GM and waiting to win the Championship match. Also, based on his ideas and analysis, the Red Sox won a championship in the years to come.

The film in general, concentrated on the idea of managing a Baseball team or management in general with all the tactical ways of choosing and "buying" players. This was definitely a new approach in film-making, as usually the films concentrate on the sport or game in specific and its “spirit” and not much on managing. Also, the film didn’t lose its sheen in “managing” the overall drama, anxiety and emotion associated with the sport. In a few scenes, a metaphor is used “How can you not be romantic about Baseball?”

Brad Pitt (who played Billy Beane) and Jonah Hill (whose role was written as a complex character based on real men associated with the sport) played their parts excellently as the GM and Asst.GM of the Oakland A's. Not to forget, the director Benett Miller who did his job well in displaying such an excellently directed film. Also, the story writer Stab Chervin and the screenplay writers Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin and of course, Michael Lewis the author of the adapted book, were pretty good with the display of in-room discussions and all the sport management tactics. Overall, this was a clear cut excellently produced film and no wonder, that it got this year’s Oscar nominations in 5 categories including Best Picture, for which Michael Di Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt himself are nominated.

On a personal note, I would like to mention that I hardly knew a thing about Baseball as a sport. Still, this film managed to stick me to my seat all the time I watched it and above all, understand the sport. I didn't feel bored, not for a moment while viewing it.

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